Balance issues can affect all of us and often occur without warning. Unexpected balance issues can be very disruptive, making it difficult for people to carry out everyday tasks such as walking, standing, and climbing stairs.
Every year, millions of elderly Americans are faced with the risk of a most serious health hazard: falling. The CDC estimates that nearly one-third of seniors suffer falls annually, resulting in 20%-30% sustaining moderate or severe injuries.
While falls may seem minor, older adults should know that they are the leading cause of injury and death. Even if not fatal, fractures from falling can lead to severe consequences such as decreased activity and mobility, isolation from friends and family, and loss of independence, potentially resulting in depression.
This blog post will discuss what causes balance issues, how to identify them, and potential solutions if you are experiencing them.
What Causes Balance Issues?
Several different factors can cause balance problems. For example, inner ear problems such as vertigo or Meniere’s disease can disrupt the body’s sense of equilibrium.
Damage to the brain or nerves caused by stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can also lead to balance issues.
Other causes include:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
This disorder of the inner ear causes brief episodes of dizziness. It is caused by a change in head position and is usually harmless, although the dizziness can be quite uncomfortable.
Treatment usually involves a series of specific maneuvers known as the Epley and Semont maneuvers. They are designed to reposition the particles displaced in the inner ear to their correct position.
Méniére’s disease is a vestibular disorder that can cause its sufferers to experience vertigo attacks, tinnitus, hearing loss, and a fullness sensation in the ears.
During an attack, it is typical for sudden dizziness and disorientation to occur, making it difficult for the person to perform daily tasks. This can significantly impact the quality of life for those affected by the condition. While there is no known cure for Méniére’s disease, various treatment options can reduce symptoms and help manage the disease.
Labyrinthitis is an inner ear disorder that causes chronic vertigo, hearing problems, and other complications. It is caused when the labyrinth—the internal ear structure responsible for equilibrium and balance—is inflamed due to viral or bacterial infection, head trauma, or exposure to certain medications.
Symptoms can vary depending on the cause of the labyrinthitis but commonly include dizziness, loss of balance, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Diagnosis requires a physical examination and an audiological test to assess any hearing changes that have occurred. Treatment of labyrinthitis typically includes medications such as anti-vertigo medicals or antivirals.
It is important to note that physical activity levels can also influence one’s sense of balance; if you are not physically active regularly, your risk of developing balance issues increases significantly.
How Can We Identify Balance Issues?
If you think you may be experiencing balance issues, there are several things you should look out for.
Common signs of balance problems include:
dizziness or lightheadedness when standing up quickly from a seated position
difficulty maintaining your balance while walking
feeling off-balance when standing still
unsteadiness when turning around quickly
sudden shifts in body weight when attempting to maintain an upright position
the problem of going up or down stairs without support.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, you must speak with your doctor immediately so they can diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment options.
What Are Some Solutions If You Are Experiencing Balance Issues?
If you have been diagnosed with the condition that has caused your balance problems, there are several ways in which you can improve your situation and reduce the severity of your symptoms.
One of the best ways is through physical therapy; regular exercise helps strengthen muscles responsible for maintaining posture and improving coordination, improving overall stability.
Other helpful tips include
reducing stress levels as much as possible since tension can further impair one’s sense of equilibrium
eating a balanced diet that provides essential nutrients needed for reasonable posture control;
getting enough sleep each night so that your mind is well rested during the day and able to stay focused on activities requiring postural control, such as walking
avoiding alcohol consumption since it impairs nerve pathways in the brain that help maintain reasonable posture control
Avoid extreme temperatures whenever possible since sudden changes can exacerbate symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness.
Balance issues cause many people considerable distress daily, but there are steps we can take to minimize their impact on our lives.
Understanding what causes them, being able to recognize common signs and symptoms, seeking professional help from a doctor if necessary, and following helpful tips such as those mentioned above will give us the best chance at managing our condition effectively so that we may return once again to living our fullest lives!
Paramount Living Aids can provide an effective and reliable solution for those suffering from balance issues, making it a safe option when climbing the stairs. Our stairlifts are designed to fit any home or staircase, built with custom options to create a tailor-made product just for you.
We understand the importance of safety and offer free consultation services to help guide you in the right direction. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you regain your confidence in climbing the stairs!